Time for U.S. to join rest of the world

(This letter was originally addressed to Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.)

The people of America stand ready to defend the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, but not to defend the aggression of the United States upon the people of Iraq.

The evasiveness of Saddam Hussein’s regime as detailed in Mr. Powell’s recent address to the U.N. Security Council does not constitute “material breach,” nor justification for the military strike the Pentagon has in its plans.

This is the year 2003, when the sophistication of surveillance systems yielding photos and recorded conversations collides dramatically with what remains the crude barbarism of war and its realities of death and destruction. War scars not only bodies, landscapes and the lives of thousands who suffer its obscenity, but also the psyches of all who wage it, upon whom it is waged and in whose name it is waged.

As citizens of the most well-endowed country on earth, many of us daily enjoy the wonders of wide access to instant, global, electronic communication and the marvel of jet travel. Some of us are acutely aware that we share a living, fragile planet with the family of humanity.

We implore you to put aside corporate gain and the devotion to the security of American “interests” – to be bold enough to do the more difficult work of rethinking security in the long term, for the sake of our children’s children, for the generations of humanity to come and for the well being of our earthly home.

The shocking events of 9/11/01 have opened our eyes and minds to the unintended consequences of the non-inclusive policies and business practices of the United States and of its corporate entities.

We must fully meet the challenges of the moment, including the challenge of modeling the implementation of appropriate, 21st-century fuels and technologies today.

It is incumbent upon us as the world’s most powerful country to rise to the challenge of engaging in real partnership building, not bribing or threatening for the sake of convenient short-term alliances designed to bolster the United States’ unilateral agenda, but committing to true international team building that can lay the foundation for a more secure planet.

The stability of this foundation will depend upon its basis in international law and a shared understanding of the common needs and desires of all people. It can be done. The world asks us to join our efforts with those of our historic allies and others calling for containment, dialogue and targeted economic pressure, in the immediate crisis with Iraq.

To recognize and uphold the International Criminal Court, which could try Saddam Hussein for crimes against his neighbors and his own people, is a possible first step. The International Land Mine Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol and many other international agreements aimed at a healthier, more peaceful world await the affirmation of the United States’ president’s signature.

Leave the old paradigms behind. It is time to retire the role of John Wayne, and with it the “go it alone” “might is right” mentality. No man, no nation is an island, together we share the shores of past and of future.

There is a new wave growing, swelling around the world. We would do well to tune to its sound and power before it is too late and the ramifications of the law of force rebound to wreak havoc once again upon the people even of the world’s current ruling countries.

It is the force of international law that we must recognize and move toward with our full participation. It is the will of the international community to find a peaceful resolution to the power struggles of our time. We call for the United States to become a full member of that community.

Another world, which recognizes justice as a prerequisite to peace, is possible. We pledge to make it real.

Meg O’Shaughnessy